FOUR Tebow BITS: Support, video, blame, waive

1 » In the wake of reports that raised questions about New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow‘s character, two former Florida Gators student-athletes and a Hollywood celebrity have come out in support of the signal caller. Former teammate now Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey yelled out “Free Tebow” when he left the team’s locker room on Wednesday. Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert and former defensive back Dorian Munroe both tweeted “#FreeTebow” on Thursday afternoon. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons delivered the same sentiment via his Twitter account. Additionally, Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel, best known for his roles in the Transformers movies and on the television program Las Vegas, yelled at ESPN analyst Merril Hoge on Twitter.

2 » Next Media Animation also centered its latest release around Tebow and head coach Rex Ryan sabotaging his NFL career.

3 » ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O’Connor took it to the Jets in a big way on Thursday, saying that the blame for this situation begins and ends with the coaching staff and not Tebow himself. “But in assessing Tebow’s grisly one-and-done with the Jets … this much is clear: Rex and his offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, are far more to blame than tiny Tim himself.” He continued, “Ryan and Sparano never had any idea how to use Tebow, and they ultimately provided him with workplace conditions unhealthy enough to turn the sport’s ultimate good guy – an athlete with an even cleaner image than [Derek] Jeter’s – into a me-centric whiner who landed in Rex’s office last week to tell his boss to take his job and shove it. Sort of.” O’Connor also blamed Urban Meyer for failing Tebow and not spending “more time fixing the kid’s windup delivery” but said that Tebow “should have been a useful hybrid player when Sanchez was going OK, and he should’ve been the permanent replacement when Sanchez was not.”

4 » USA Today columnist Mike Garafolo, also taking Tebow’s side in this situation, believes that New York should have cut the player loose days ago for his own good. “Here’s all you need to know about how badly things are mismanaged, misrepresented and miscommunicated inside the walls of the New York Jets’ facility: They got Tim Tebow to snap. And now, they need to let him go,” he wrote. Garafolo breaks down how the Jets have wasted a year of Tebow’s career and should at least give him the ability to be picked up via waivers by his likely new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, which are second in waiver priority. “Let him get to the facility, start working with the organization, get used to the playbook … and end this season with a smile on his face. … All Tebow wants is a chance to play. Second on that list would be some clarity.”

Extra BIT » Greg McElroy, New York’s third-stringer who replaced starter Mark Sanchez and leapfrogged Tebow for that opportunity, was injured in last week’s game. Ryan said Thursday that he woke up in the morning with bad headaches, so he has decided to return Sanchez to the starting role. “Obviously Tim’s not happy with that [decision],” Ryan said in a press conference.

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Florida Gators 2012 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

The Florida Gators may not have a proverbial dog in the race when it comes to the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday but a handful of former Florida players still hope to see their childhood dreams come true this weekend.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators may not be as excited about the event this time around considering there will be yet another a significant drop-off from the nation-leading nine players that were selected in 2010 (including a school-record three in the first round and six in the first two rounds). In fact, Florida is not expected to have a first-round pick for the first time since the 2006 draft when Chad Jackson was an early second-round selection by New England.

Few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen Thursday-Sunday.

» Cornerback Janoris Jenkins will be the only player with (close) ties to Florida to be selected in the first two rounds – probably in the latter part of round one.

Unless a team falls in love with running back Chris Rainey’s potential, Jenkins is the only name Gators fans can hope to hear on Thursday or early Friday. He has early first-round potential but what many teams apparently consider undraftable off-the-field character concerns. Reports coming out this week state that some teams have removed Jenkins from their draft boards entirely while others recognize that his talent may be too good to pass up. Many analysts even believe he has a higher upside than LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who is expected to be the first cornerback selected (somewhere in the top 10) on Thursday. With such a rush of anti-Jenkins reports, it appears as if a number of teams are trying to create a major smokescreen in the hopes that he falls to them late in the first round. Marijuana arrests and multiple children out of wedlock may matter to some front office executives, but they are not considered to be on the same level with felony arrests, for example. It is likely that someone takes a chance on Jenkins Thursday and does not let him slip into the second round where he would be an absolute steal.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2012 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

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FOUR BITS: Pro Day, Tim Tebow, tennis, WBK

1 » Though the date has been set for at least a few weeks now, the Florida Gators officially announced this week that the team will hold its Pro Day on March 13. Free and open to the public, Pro Day will feature a number of draft-eligible Gators working out for NFL scouts and coaches from around the league right on Florida Field in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida also announced that seven players who graduated in 2011 – quarterback John Brantley, defensive end William Green, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, defensive back Moses Jenkins, running back Chris Rainey and wide receiver Deonte Thompson – are scheduled to participate. Also in attendance to work out for scouts will be former Gators including DT Troy Epps, DT Lawrence Marsh, DB Dorian Munroe, DB Wondy Pierre-Louis and WR Justin Williams.

2 » EA Sports announced via their Facebook page that QB Tim Tebow is one of two Denver Broncos players representing his team in the online voting for cover athlete for the Madden NFL 13 video game. Voting begins March 7; after the field is cut down to 32 players, head-to-head votes will take place until the final cover athlete is picked. Tebow, who was on the cover of NCAA Football 11 two years ago, may actually want to avoid winning this contest due to the dreaded and much-publicized Madden curse.

3 » No. 15 Florida women’s tennis (6-1) swept the Florida State Seminoles (5-4) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex for the team’s 99th consecutive home victory. The Gators, now 52-1 all-time against the Seminoles, beat their in-state rivals 7-0. The No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen won 8-2, leading the way for three doubles victories. No. 1 Will (6-1, 6-2), No. 39 Oyen (6-2, 6-1), No. 18 senior Joanna Mather (6-3, 6-1), No. 23 junior Lauren Embree (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Olivia Janowicz (6-4, retired) all won their singles matches as well in the rout. Florida will compete in back-to-back road meets against Tennessee on Friday and Georgia on Sunday before returning to Gainesville, FL looking for their 100th straight win at home next Friday against Vanderbilt.

4 » Eight-seed Gators women’s basketball (18-11, 8-8 SEC) is set to begin action in the 2012 SEC Tournament by taking on the nine-seed Auburn Tigers (13-16, 5-11 SEC) on Thursday at 1 p.m. With the game airing live on FOX Sports Network, fans can watch as Florida tries to pull out a victory for the opportunity to square-off with one-seed Kentucky on Friday at 1 p.m.

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SIX BITS: NFL injuries, Tebow, Munroe, women

1 » New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’s leading receivers this year with 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two games, sprained his MCL during Sunday afternoon’s game and will be out of action at least 1-2 weeks, according to the Boston Globe. Also injured on Sunday was Chicago Bears free safety Major Wright, who was hit hard in his contest and was removed from the field with what was considered a head injury. After further evaluation, Wright was diagnosed with a “stiff neck” and not a concussion, which means he does not have to miss his team’s next game. However, Wright may not start anyway as, according to the Chicago Tribune, the team is considering moving Brandon Meriweather into the starting role.

2 » Denver Broncos second-year player Tim Tebow has yet to see the field as a quarterback in 2011 after leading his team to a 1-2 record in three starts to conclude the 2010 season. However, Tebow got into his team’s game on Sunday as a wide receiver due to injuries to some of the other players. According to NBC Sports, Tebow asked the coaching staff if he could play receiver on the scout team rather than do nothing during practice. The coaches agreed and allowed him to fill the role and he wound up playing out wide on Sunday as a result. Head coach John Fox said Monday that the Broncos only consider Tebow a quarterback and have no plans to play him at receiver going forward.

3 » Former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe, who OGGOA recently profiled as we broke the story that he would be playing for the Toronto Varsity Blues of OUA Canadian college football, was interviewed in a profile piece on The Score out of Canada. Through three games with Toronto, Munroe has 13 tackles and an interception.

4 » In unrelated Tebow news, he told the Associated Press last week that, while he appreciated the support of fans who were raising money for billboards declaring that he should start for Denver, he hoped they were “going to do the right thing” with the money and donate it to charity. Fox, asked about the billboard, said, “I’ve seen a lot of billboards and I can’t remember one that really influenced me.”

5 » No. 9 Florida soccer (8-2) ended its non-conference slate over the weekend with a pair of decisive road victories. On Friday, the Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers (7-2) behind a pair of goals by freshman midfielder Annie Speese at 43’ and 86’. Sunday’s 7-2 blowout of the Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) was a total team effort with six different players scoring. Speese added her third goal of the weekend at 20’, but freshman forward Tahnai Annis opened and closed the contest with goals at 9’ and 89’. Florida will continue its four-game road trip with a pair of games against Georgia (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) as they open Southeastern Conference play. UF will then return to Gainesville, FL for a five-game homestand.

6 » No. 6/7 Gators volleyball (8-2, 1-0 SEC) began league play on Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-18, 26-24) of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-5, 0-1 SEC) on the road in Starkville, MS. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts, posted a triple-double with 10 kills, 19 assists and 11 digs in the match. Also excelling Friday was senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel, who led the team with 14 kills on the evening. After playing their last three matches on the road, Florida will return home for a two contests next weekend against Kentucky (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) before hitting the road the following weekend.

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All healed, former Gators safety Dorian Munroe plans to make most of opportunity in Toronto

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison

For every college football player who spends his career bellyaching about playing time or feels his coaching staff is not doing enough to help him move on to the next level is a guy who remains humble, keeps his head down and fights to earn his keep.

You usually see this type of gusto from walk-ons who are thrilled to have a place on the team and hope to earn a scholarship by proving they can work as hard and perform as well as the highly recruited players who intend to use their college careers as a springboard to the NFL.

But what happens when a four-star recruit listed as one of the top players at his position nationally works just as hard as any other player, earns the starting role he sought his whole career and is injured – not once but thrice – and told to kiss his career goodbye?

Those unfortunate circumstances are what former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe faced. Rather than fall by the wayside as another talented athlete who could not escape injury and wound up giving up on his dream, he has kept his head in the game, searched for the right opportunity and realized that any chance you are given to succeed is better than no chance at all.

Entering his redshirt junior year with Florida in 2008, Munroe was set to start and play extensively in the secondary. While doing voluntary workouts in Gainesville, FL on July 7, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was forced to miss the entire season.

He rejoined the Gators in 2009 with his knee healed and his mind set on returning to form. After going through an extensive rehabilitation process, Munroe shined in the Orange & Blue Debut, grabbing an interception and proving that he was ready to play once again as part of a four-man rotation at safety.

His comeback would not be without another bump in the road, however, as he tore the meniscus in his right leg in August and missed the first seven games of the season. Munroe made his triumphant return to the field against Georgia on Oct. 31, starting on special teams and taking home the Special Teams Player of the Game award.

Little did he know that the first game he participated in after nearly 16 months on the mend would also be the last time he ever put the full Florida uniform.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s feature on Dorian Munroe…after the break!
Continue Reading » All healed, former Gators safety Dorian Munroe plans to make most of opportunity in Toronto

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/24

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at spring practice from Wed., March 24.

Absences/Injuries:
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley missed practice with a high fever and what is believed to be strep throat. Brantley is also having some issues with his knee, which the team believes is just bruised.

» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence was sent to Shands Hospital before practice to undergo tests, according to UF. It is neither known what those tests are for nor if something specific landed him in the hospital.

» Again? Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody left the field on crutches after injuring his ankle during practice. He had minor surgery on the ankle last January and has had injury issues throughout his career.

» Florida announced that sophomore safety Josh Evans (knee) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Kyle Koehne (elbow) are out for the remainder of spring practice. Other players (especially some of the linemen) are sitting out mostly due to precaution or other interests (Jeff Demps – track and field).

Practice happenings:
» Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins got some work in with the first team on Wednesday. He took advantage of struggling frosh QB Trey Burton by picking off one of his passes. Jenkins is competing for a starting job but will likely be relegated to the second-team on the outside.

» Redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli continues to impress with his size and hands. He could very well be one of the breakout stars of the spring. Also showing grit was sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., who made a great catch but landed awkwardly on his back, earning a gasp from the crowd. He’s OK.

Other notes:
» Former Gators LB Brandon Spikes, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, LB Ryan Stamper, CB Wondy Pierre-Louis and S Dorian Munroe all attended practice.

» Players and coaches are off-limits to the media right now and for the foreseeable future. However, that will not last and the silence will end sooner than later.

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More notes from first week of spring practice

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2010 season last Wednesday, there was plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a weekend practice wrap-up.

» Be sure to read over 1,000 words on the return of head coach Urban Meyer and the start of spring practice in OGGOA‘s first post on the subject.

More notes from the first weekend of spring practice:
» As we mentioned Friday, redshirt sophomore cornerback Adrian Bushell – who was expected to supplant Joe Haden next to junior Janoris Jenkins – is still being held out of spring practice as punishment. Senior [we are looking into why his redshirt has not registered] Moses Jenkins is filling in next to J. Jenkins in the interim.

» Backing up J. Jenkins and already turning heads is impressive four-star frosh CB Jaylen Watkins. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown is second behind M. Jenkins.

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley is continuing to turn heads with his impressive arm and ability to hit receivers in stride. His pass catchers, notably redshirt freshman Stephen Alli, redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. and frosh Solomon Patton are all really impressing.

» Frosh QB Trey Burton, dazzling coaches with his legs and toughness, has plenty of work to do as a passer. He was also lit-up by coaches for trotting into the end zone on a naked bootleg, something he made up for with good effort the rest of practice.

» Injury: sophomore safety Josh Evans injured his left knee during a one-on-one drill and had to be helped off the field.

» Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic is getting every opportunity to start alongside senior Brandon Hicks and redshirt senior A.J. Jones. Also competing with him is redshirt sophomore Brendan Beal. Though redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins and sophomore converted S Dee Finley will also be competing for playing time.

» OGGOA previously reported that S Dorian Munroe was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA but is in the process of appealing that ruling. Munroe believes his career is now over after numerous knee injuries and will try his hand at coaching when the hammer comes down. Meyer offered Munroe a chance to work with the coaching staff this season, one he will certainly accept.

» JuCo defensive tackle Edwin Herbert has been released from his scholarship due to his lack of ability, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Thanks to The Gainesville Sun and Miami Herald for some of the details in this post.

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FOUR BITS: Townsend, Munroe, Iditarod, honors

1 » 2011 linebacker recruit Lateek Townsend recently told his hometown newspaper, The State, that he is strongly considering leaving home and playing for the Florida Gators after his senior season of high school. “I’m thinking Florida highly,” he said. “That’s a winning program, so things must be done right. I’m going down there soon for an unofficial visit. I’ve not seen the campus yet. I put them up there with Clemson [his leader] and South Carolina.”

2 » Mark Wheeler of Rivals is reporting that Gators redshirt senior safety Dorian Munroe was denied a sixth year of eligibility and a medical redshirt by the NCAA last week. Munroe, who has suffered with injuries throughout his college career, was hoping to get a redshirt exception after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time. Munroe has appeared in 28 games in his Florida career, collecting 43 total tackles while playing a role on defense and special teams. He had a career-high six tackles in the SEC Championship against the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2006. He will appeal the ruling.

3 » University of Florida alumnus Tom Thurston is competing in the Iditarod this year, and The Gainesville Sun put together a nice profile piece on the former student. Thurston hopes for a top-30 finish in the annual event.

4 » Gators senior outfielder Francesca Enea was the recipient of SEC Player of the Week honors Monday. Smacking four home runs (three grand slams) this week, Enea is now second all-time in the SEC record book with 51 homers. Also honored this week is Florida freshman lacrosse player Ashley Bruns, who brought home the American Lacrosse Conference‘s Rookie of the Week for scoring five goals in one half of competition. It is the second-straight week a Gators lacrosse player has won the honor. Last but not least, the 2009 SEC Champion UF women’s cross country team was named the USTFCAAA All-Academic Team of the year with a combined 3.56 GPA.

Bubble Watch » The unranked Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-5, 11-3 WCC) defeated the No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-6, 12-2 WCC) 81-62 Monday to earn the WCC Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Two teams are now guaranteed to represent the WCC instead of one (Gonzaga), taking away an at-large bid.

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